Jayant Narlikar’s pseudo-defence of Darwin

Jayant Narlikar, the noted astrophysicist and emeritus professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, recently wrote an op-ed in The Hindu titled ‘Science should have the last word’. There’s probably a tinge of sanctimoniousness there, echoing the belief many scientists I’ve met have that science will answer everything, often blithely oblivious to … Read more

For space, frugality is a harmful aspiration

Ref: ‘ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission to cost lesser than Hollywood movie Interstellar – here’s how they make it cost-effective’, staff, Moneycontrol, February 20, 2018. ∞ ‘Chandrayaan-2 mission cheaper than Hollywood film Interstellar’, Surendra Singh, Times of India, February 20, 2018. ∞ The following statements from the Moneycontrol and Times of India articles have no meaning: The cost of … Read more

On that Poynter debate about stock images and ethical visual journalism

Response to Mark Johnson, Article about free images ‘contradicts everything I hold true about journalism’, Poynter, February 9, 2018. ∞ Let’s get the caveats out of the way: The article to which Johnson is responding did get some of its messaging wrong. As Johnson wrote, it suggested the following: “We don’t think about visuals BUT visuals are … Read more

Why Titan is awesome #11

Titaaaaan! Here we go again. 😄 As has been reported, NASA has been interested in sending a robotic submarine to Saturn’s moon Titan to explore the hydrocarbon lakes near its north pole. Various dates have been mentioned and in all it seems likely the mission will be able to take off around 2040. In the 22 years … Read more

ISRO v. SpaceX doesn’t make sense

Though I’ve never met the guy, I don’t hold Pallava Bagla in very high regard because his stories – particularly of the Indian space programme – for NDTV have often reeked of simplistic concerns, pettiness and, increasingly of late, a nationalistic pride. The most recent instance all these characteristics were put on display was February … Read more

All the science in ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’

I watched The Cloverfield Paradox last night, the horror film that Paramount pictures had dumped with Netflix and which was then released by Netflix on February 4. It’s a dumb production: unlike H.R. Giger’s existential, visceral horrors that I so admire, The Cloverfield Paradox is all about things going bump in the dark. But what … Read more

Veblen cars and useless concerns for the climate

Lexus has an ad on the jacket of today’s The Hindu for its new premium hybrid electric vehicle, the LS 500h. The product description states that the car “extends relentless innovation to environmentally conscious engineering with a performance-centric Multi Stage Hybrid System. Crafted with luxury in mind and engineered with the environment at heart” (emphasis added). … Read more